I said this two drafts ago, when we had the three first-round picks, I’m open to whatever can help our team improve. If that is using a pick like that, wherever it may be, to help bring in a player that we know, and feel, will help impact the results that we are looking for, absolutely.
It has been a tough run as of late in New Jersey with the team missing the playoffs for four straight years and not recording a victory in a postseason series in the last ten seasons. Along the way, they’ve had a pair of number one draft picks in Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes while adding Dougie Hamilton in free agency last summer. If they truly are open to dealing away their top pick (where it falls will be known on Tuesday with the draft lottery), they should be able to land another significant addition. Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek suggests that one possibility could be Minnesota’s Kevin Fiala, who the Devils have previously expressed interest in.
More from Fitzgerald’s comments:
- Winger Jesper Bratt highlights their list of restricted free agents and Fitzgerald indicated their intention is to work out a long-term deal with the 23-year-old. Bratt is coming off a career season where he led the Devils in scoring with 26 goals and 47 assists in 78 games, making his $2.75MM cap hit quite a bargain. He’s owed a $3.3MM qualifying offer (120% of the AAV is lower than his $3.45MM salary this season) but also has arbitration rights. Whether it’s a long-term contract or one awarded by an arbitrator, Bratt will be getting a significant raise for next season.
- Another RFA of note is Pavel Zacha. The forward had a career-best 36 points in 70 games this season and is a year away from UFA eligibility. Fitzgerald suggested that he wants “to see where some of the ducks fall on how we want to build out this team” before deciding on whether or not Zacha still fits in their plans. The 25-year-old is subject to the old qualifying offer rules and will need to be tendered a $3MM offer to match his salary from last season to retain his rights. If New Jersey decides to move on, Zacha could be one to watch for on the trade front in the coming weeks.
- Fitzgerald confirmed the desire to add another NHL-quality goaltender to the ranks. Mackenzie Blackwood is currently slated as their starter and Jonathan Bernier may or may not be ready for the start of next season as he works his way back from hip surgery. While carrying three NHL-caliber netminders isn’t something that’s appealing for most teams, New Jersey’s situation is one where going that way certainly makes a lot of sense.